For our purposes we’re going to say feelings are internal; something we ‘feel’ inside. They are visceral and get our juices flowing, literally. They often cause our body to secrete things like adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. Feelings can be vague and hard to get a handle on. We know we’re feeling something but we can’t always put a finger on exactly what it is. Things like appreciation, doubt, contentment, anxiety and shame are examples of feelings.
Emotions on the other hand are how we express those feelings. They are the external appearance or outward expression of the internal feeling. Emotions are pretty unsophisticated and are generally one of four basic categories; happy, sad, anger and fear. These emotions generally work themselves into some sort of outward expression.
In a nutshell, feelings stimulate emotions that cause something to happen.
For example; Gratitude is a feeling stimulating Joy, and so I laugh; Worry is a feeling that may stimulate Fear, and so I hide; Bitterness is a feeling that makes me Angry, and so I fight, and Depression might show itself as Sadness, so I cry.
Some would say all feelings are centered on love. That’s a fair assessment. We are ‘Love’ based creatures. We are built to love. It’s our nature and our inherent desire. If there is one thing we need as human beings, it is an avenue to express our love. One way or another we’re always looking to get our love.
The bottom line is, at any given time we either feel we have love or we don’t. And if we don’t have it, we either don’t deserve it or somebody took it.
If I have love I’m happy, joyful and secure. If I don’t have it I’m sad and insecure. If I feel I don’t deserve it I’m depressed and worthless. If somebody took it I’m pissed and looking to get it back.
If examined closely every feeling and emotion can be tracked back to this very simple concept. For our purposes we will broaden the scope a bit but keep this in mind as you search for your Protagonist’s need to forgive.
The reason I bring all this up about feelings and emotions is because the identification of this ‘awful feeling’ is crucial to our process. It’s important we get past simple answers like, “Because he makes me mad!” or “She hurt me!”
While it may be true that he makes me mad or she hurt me, it doesn’t serve my purpose to stop there. I need to know WHY? it makes me mad. I need to know how she hurt me. I need to dig deeper. Until I know how I’ve been hurt I cannot begin to heal. A close look at our feelings and emotions will help this happen.